I recently did a blog on how to co-parent with a jerk. Here it is: Tips for co-parenting with a jerk
But these tips do not always work.
Another option is to scrap the concept of co-parenting altogether and try parallel parenting. What is parallel parenting? I must admit I had not heard of it until I came across this article: Virginia Gilbert, MFT: What to Do When Co-Parenting Doesn’t Work
Co-parenting does not work in all cases and is especially difficult in high conflict families. After efforts at co-parenting have failed, try to limit contact with your ex. That’s the premise behind parallel parenting. It does not mean that you should be less involved with your children – just less involved with your angry ex. Less face to face confrontations, more paper trails with email. Less phone calls, more text messages. You get the idea.
I am a little skeptical about this concept but the article above has two good points:
1. Do not respond to threats of lawsuits or the filing of motions. Refer your ex to your attorney. In addition to providing legal guidance, a lawyer acting as a “buffer” between you and your former spouse can be invaluable.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. There are certain parenting issues which you will have little control over. For example, bedtime, discipline and what video games your child is playing when with the other parent. So, let that stuff go. Stay tuned to the truly important matters such as how the child is doing academically, socially, emotionally and physically.
The higher the family conflict the more detailed a Parenting Plan needs to be. Times, dates, events all need to be carefully spelled out. Liberal and flexible schedules will not work. In extreme cases of hostility between parents, judges will award one parent sole legal custody (rather than joint cusotdy) to avoid inevitable disagreements regarding decision making.